He considers two types of video--political, activist video and artistic video--and finds that the two "operate in distinct realms, economically, culturally, and at the level of distribution" (226). Burnett warns that the tendency of the activist to idealize video, that is, to believe that video can "break through the smokescreens manufactured by mainstream media and commnicate directly to the people" (229) may be a trend which intensifies resistance to the critical examination of video as a medium. Burnett believes that we must reexamine the assumption that the video image will, by its very existance, "open up discourses and relationships hitherto repressed by the political anbd social situation in which the public found themselves" (244).
The final chapter deals less with image and more with the development of identity. Burnett claims that "we have entered an era in which the way information is transmitted is of less consequence than the use made of the material created" (278). The use which he apparently wishes to discuss is that of the construction of social and individual identity. Burnett considers at length the ways in which the construction of identity has become increasingly problematic, since the traditional ways in which we used to create identity are gone (286). Today, he argues, communities undergo "hyperchange," a process which is rapid, linear, exponential, discontinuous, and chaotic. Hyperchange allows no time for evaluation, interpretation.
This last chapter draws examples from a diverse set of video and television images, the making of a video in the Marshall Islands, a Superbowl halftime show, an episode of Seinfeld, and the work of the avant-garde video artists Bill Viola and Sadie Benning. Burnett seems most concerned with examining the cultural context that informs viewings of popular culture media and lobbies for the development of a more sophisticated set of critical tools that will analyse popular culture events. He concludes by saying that the advent of sophisticated multimedia technologies have made distinctions of all kinds "dysfunctional." He finds that,
[T]here can be no conclusion to this book, because as with electronic mail, there seems to be more and more reasons to continue writing....It has been the thrust of this book to explore all of these elements within the context of an 'old' medium. These printed words are themselves on of the best ways of 'seeing' and also an excellent strategy for challenging the idea that the imaginary can ever be enclosed within the various technologies that any culture creates" (334).
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